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Getting ‘In Step’ with the orchard

July 23, 2011
By Debra Wolf, For The Inter-Mountain , The Inter-Mountain

Peaches are in season. A basket of peaches, supposedly from South Carolina, at the produce stand in my neighborhood is $5. The delectable fruit, whether bought by the basket or the bushel, can end up in anything from cobbler to canning jars to cereal.

Sunday afternoon, heavy cream, peaches, milk and sugar were poured into my family's electric ice cream maker. As the paddle churned, I kept my eye on the mix. Forty-five minutes or so later, a beautifully blended peach ice cream had formed.

Pops and I sat under the picnic pavilion enjoying spoonfuls. We admired the peaches, on his trees, in his orchard. Although smaller in size than the South Carolina beauties, it's impressive to see such delicate fruit handling this region's cooler climate.

I told him about chasing a redheaded woodpecker out of his yellow transparent apple tree, as I had worked pulling weeds out of flowerbeds, the day before. The task had taken all afternoon, but the smaller flowers - the zinnias, dahlias, marigolds and Montana blues - were now getting more sun, and in just a day, a difference could be seen.

"Your mother's not very good," Pops said, after we had finished our Sunday dessert. "She was in tears, before she even got out of bed this morning."

A month ago, my mother was in a car accident. While in the driver's seat, when she turned to see what had happened, she fractured her fragile back. Since that time, she has had to cope with chronic, continuous pain. The medicine doesn't help. I go home frequently to relieve her from household duties such as shopping, cooking, laundry, weeding.

Fact Box

Best cobbler recipe ever

2 c. fruit-blueberries, peaches, blackberries, cherries

Not quite 3/4 c. sugar

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 c. milk

1 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 c. boiling water

Line pie pan with fruit. In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Meanwhile, heat water on stove to boiling and turn off. Add milk, flour, baking powder to sugar mixture. Mix well, until a batter is formed. Pour the batter over the fruit. Pour the cup of hot water over the cobbler. The water helps the fruit form a juice, as it bakes. Bake at 375 degrees for almost an hour or until the top is lightly browned. Serve with milk, if desired.

Before making the peach ice cream, I had fried squash to go with the London broil and the burgers my brother had going on the gas grill. The yellow and the white patty pan squash were the first of the season.

I looked out to see the squash plants. They looked healthy with bloom. Walking along by the vegetable garden earlier, I noticed the lettuce, potatoes, peas, onions, tomatoes, banana peppers, cabbage, cantaloupe and corn. The potato plants were dried up, burnt and brown. I pointed them out.

"They're dead," Pops said.

In certain places, weeds are overtaking the rows. I see it as a sign of my father's age. Watching my parents' regress health wise and age wise, I know it's time to step up in a gentle way, lend a hand, where I can and somehow help ease the frustration, confusion, depression and anger. Like pulling weeds, we'll lift out the nuisances.

This morning, I peeled apples and made pie. Pops had sent with me the first of the yellow transparents. As our day ended, he asked if I had crust.

"Yes, I have crust," I said.

As we parted, I told him, "Call me, if you need anything."



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